Pacquiao vs. Marquez: 8 Possible Next Fights If Pacquiao Wins
Manny Pacquiao is widely expected to win his bout Saturday with chief rival Juan Manuel Marquez, and understandably so. Pac Man has been untouchable since his last competitive fight—in March 2008 against Marquez—and most indicators favor Pacquiao more so in this fight than his first two against Marquez.
At the 144 pound catchweight, Pacquiao is at a much more comfortable weight than Marquez, who is moving up to welterweight for only the second time in his career. Most of us remember the first—a 12-round shutout loss to Floyd Mayweather in 2009.
Age is also working against Marquez, as is momentum.
But if Pacquiao wins, then fans are surprisingly in the dark about what his next move is. Everyone hopes for a showdown with Floyd Mayweather, Jr., but recent history tells us the odds of that are slim, no matter what kind of grandstanding Mayweather has been involved in recently.
Here's a list of possible post-fight scenarios that I came up with if Pacquiao wins the fight with Marquez on Saturday. I've assigned probabilities for each possible choice.
Pacquiao Could Fight Tim Bradley
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If you look at Ring magazine's Top 10 Pound-for-Pound list, there are two fighters who are within a weight class of Pacquiao right now.
Mayweather is the obvious one.
Palm Desert, California's Timothy Bradley—ranked No. 8 Pound-for-Pound–is the other one.
A lot of signs point to Tim Bradley being the next fighter to win a spot in the "Pacquiao Sweepstakes" to earn a major fight with the Filipino sensation. Bradley recently severed ties with his old promoter, Gary Shaw promotions, and signed with Pacquiao's promoter, Bob Arum, under Top Rank promotions.
Bradley will be facing former champion Joel Casamayor as the main undercard bout on the Pacquiao-Marquez card. It's no surprise that Arum likes to showcase potential future opponents before giving them a shot against his main meal ticket, and giving Bradley a marquee spot as the primary undercard bout on this card seems like a fairly blatant attempt to help familiarize casual fans with Timothy Bradley.
I think this is the most likely scenario.
Probability: 50 percent
Pacquiao Could Fight Someone Random
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Mayweather, Sergio Martinez, Marquez and Bradley—these are the four guys that I think have a legitimate reason to face Pacquiao in his next bout.
However, Bob Arum has been known to pull some strange things out of his hat on occasion. He did it with Clottey and Margarito. There's nothing saying he couldn't do it again.
Some options for this would be non-deserving opponents like Andre Berto or Victor Ortiz. Amir Khan could deserve this fight, but it seems unlikely that the matchup would happen right now. Khan has too much to lose, and the contractual stuff—like Khan being trained by Pacquiao's trainer, but being promoted by a rival promoter—makes it seem more difficult.
Welterweight champion Mike Jones seems like another option, but I don't think his resume is impressive enough to warrant a fight with Pacquiao right now.
I give this decent odds because there are a lot of (undesirable) possibilities, and Bob Arum's actions can sometimes be inexplicable.
Chances: 20 percent
Pacquiao Could Fight Mayweather
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Every boxing writer and fan has talked this point to death, including me.
The reason this fight is compelling is because no one knows who would win. I go back and forth on a weekly basis thinking about who would win.
The reason this fight isn't compelling is because the odds of it happening are becoming increasingly remote with each passing month.
Probability: 15 percent
If It's a Real War, and Pacquaio Wins, This Could Favor Mayweather
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One thing that could make Pacquiao-Mayweather more likely is if Pacquiao-Marquez ends up being a real war and Pacquiao looks vulnerable.
Everyone knows that the main feather in Mayweather's cap in the Mayweather-Pacquiao rivalry is the ease with which Mayweather dispatched Marquez and the difficulty Pacquiao had in doing the same.
One unusual thing about boxing is that oftentimes, the more vulnerable a fighter looks, the more opponents are willing to step up and face them. This could potentially be a factor that pushes Pacquiao-Mayweather over the tipping point.
If Pacquiao wins but looks vulnerable against Marquez, then the probabilities will change:
Pacquiao to face Mayweather: (+10) to 25 percent
Pacquiao to face Bradley: (-5) to 45 percent
Pacquiao to face a random opponent: (-5) to 15 percent
Rematch with Cotto
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It's well known that Pacquaio's list of potential foes in his divisions is becoming exhausted, as he has beaten most credible opponents. A rematch with an old foe—Puerto Rico's Miguel Cotto—wouldn't be an unlikely next step.
Some will say that Pacquiao's fight with Cotto wasn't that close, but Cotto at least won a few rounds against Manny, and more importantly, the fight was entertaining to watch. Aside from Marquez, Cotto has been Pacquiao's best recent opponent. Margarito fought valiantly but is clearly a limited fighter, Clottey was a snoozer, Hatton was a train-wreck, and De La Hoya has been forced into retirement.
In addition, Cotto is a popular fighter who could be riding a lot of momentum if he beats Antonio Margarito in their long-anticipated December 3rd rematch. If Cotto wins that fight, then I think he would be a good choice for Pacquiao. It's one of the few Pacquiao fights I would pay to see.
Probability: 8 percent
Rematch with Marquez
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If Pacquiao wins conclusively, it seems extremely unlikely that he would have an immediate rematch with Marquez. He has already beaten and drew Marquez once, and fourth matches tend to happen with a split series, not one where a fighter has won two and drawn one.
But if something odd happens—a no-contest, or a controversial decision where a lot of people think Marquez deserved to win—then an immediate rematch could be ordered.
A controversial decision in this fight seems possible. Judges know that they'll come under a lot of scrutiny if they award a decision against Pacquiao, especially if two of them do so and it eliminates all the suspense surrounding a potential Mayweather showdown.
Honestly, it will probably take a knockout for Marquez to pull off a victory. Judges won't give him the decision in this fight. But if the court of public opinion decides that Marquez deserved to win, then a lot of money could be involved in a rematch and Pacquiao might want to prove once and for all that he can beat Marquez.
A lack of excellent options for Pacquiao makes this unlikely possibility feasible.
Probability: 6 percent
Pacquiao Could Fight Sergio Martinez
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This is a fight I would love to see.
It's a fight all boxing fans should love to see.
Unfortunately, it's not a fight that Pacquiao or his promoter seem interested in.
Martinez is the No. 3 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, and deserves a Pacquiao fight more than anyone else on the planet. He has said he'd be willing to come down to 152 pounds to make this fight happen, which would give Pacquiao a significant advantage.
I'd say this fight had a zero percent chance of happening, but with the way Martinez looked vulnerable against England's Darren Barker in his last bout, I think there's at least a possibility.
We all can dream. This is the fighter I want to see Pacquiao face more than anyone not named Mayweather.
Probability: 5 percent because I'm optimistic
If Mayweather Fight Doesn't Materialize, Pacquiao Could Choose to Retire
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Pacquiao has said he'll fight for at least a few more bouts, but there's always the possibility that the Filipino Congressman could decide to hang up the gloves.
He has made more money than he'll probably ever use, and a Mayweather fight is honestly the only thing that can do much to enhance his legacy at this point. If fighting Mayweather looks increasingly remote, Pacquiao could decide to retire.
This retirement would likely not happen explicitly—Pacquiao doesn't want to publicly go back on his word, and he's not prone to the dramatic gestures that Mayweather is—but if Pacquiao doesn't show much interest in booking his next fight, an implicit retirement could happen.
It's unlikely, but not impossible.
Probability: 1 percent